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Archive for July, 2012

Fear God and honor the king! (1)

Fearing God is the easier of the two parts of this command.  

Honor the king!  I am having a problem with this one, especially as the narcissistic stalemate in Washington DC, continues to rule on the basis of self-interest, money, and power.

Our leaders have abandoned the form of government advocated by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people!”

Paul’s statement that all sin and fall short of the glory of God (2) is hard to dispute when examining the current political culture of the United States.

Christians have historically struggled with Jesus’ teaching “Give to Caesar what is his and give to God what is His.” (3)

Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, has provided the best explanation of what Jesus meant:

The secular government doesn’t extend any further than external and physical matters. God can tolerate secular government because it doesn’t concern itself with sin, good works, or spiritual matters. Instead, it handles other matters, such as guarding cities, building bridges, collecting tolls and taxes, providing protection, defending the land and the people, and punishing criminals. 

So Christians should obey government officials as long as these officials don’t command them to do something against their consciences.

If an emperor or prince were to ask me about my faith, I surely would tell him, not because of his governmental authority, but because I should confess my faith publicly. 

If, however, he ordered me to believe this or that, I would say, “Sir, take care of the secular government. You have no authority intruding on God’s kingdom. I will not obey you. You cannot tolerate anyone intruding on your domain. If someone oversteps their boundary without your permission, you shoot them. Do you think that God should tolerate your desire to push him off his throne and seat yourself in his place?” (4)

As the people of God we need to pray and work to keep the civil government from meddling in the affairs of God.

As you celebrate our nation’s independence today, established primarily to protect religious liberties, pray for our leaders, more and more of them believe everything belongs to Caesar.

As fear of God is replaced by expanding honor for the king our great nation grows weaker.

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  1. 1 Peter 2:17 .
  2. Romans 3:23.
  3. Matthew 22:21.
  4. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 185). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
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Inner peace through an implicit trust in the love of God 

is the real evidence of a mature Christian faith. (1)

Inner peace eludes us because we pursue it in venues in which it cannot be found.  It will never be found at the store, in the office, or under a trophy.  It can not be purchased, achieved, or won.  It can only be received.

Inner peace can only be found in the company of faith.  Thus, it is accessible to all.  You do not need privilege, wealth, or luck to have it.  In fact, these things have prevented many people from finding inner peace. 

My friend Earl had inner peace.  

In the eight years I knew him, I never saw him out of bed.  He spoke between shots of air delivered to his lungs by a ventilator.  He could not tend to any of his personal needs.  

While Earl was was totally dependent upon others to provide all of his physical and worldly needs, his mind and heart had been spared the disease which ravaged his body.

Earl could have given up, but he did not.

He could have instructed his doctors to pull-the-plug, but he did not.

He could have spewed anger, despair, and resentment on anyone who entered his room, but he did not.

Instead Earl was the happiest man I ever met.  

In contrast to Job who moped, whined, and raged when his worldly possessions and loves were stolen by an evil twist of fate, Earl smiled, praised God, and rejoiced after disease robbed him of anything which looked like quality of life.

Earl had a peace which surpassed all understanding because he had faith in God.  This peace, his companion in faith, guarded his heart and his mind. (2)

Earl’s faith grew while his body decayed.  

Earl knew that his body would not last forever, it does not for any of us.  Thus, he placed his whole life into the hands of Jesus.  When troubles came and health declined, Earl found peace not in little things, but in the great and wondrous grace of God.

When Earl died, we sang Horatio Spafford’s great hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul” (Click the title to hear this great hymn.)

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, 

when sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, 

It is well with my soul. (3)

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  1. Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 202.
  2. Philippians 4:7.
  3. Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 202.

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Fear is nothing to be afraid of!

The person who says he fears nothing, is a liar hiding behind bravo.

We all have fears, even people with the deepest faith in God.

Fear is doubting you have the strength to overcome!

The best way to overcome your fears is to acknowledge them.  Most people are ashamed of their fears and doubts.

I have several friends who are embarrassed that they are afraid of lightning.  When a storm comes, they hide inside a safe shelter.  This is not a bad decision on their part.  Most likely they will never be struck dead.  Their fear serves them well.

On the other hand, I am not afraid of lightning, I love to watch it flash and strike the ground all around me.  I will move out of safe shelter for the thrill of having a better view of lightning.  If I am struck dead by lightning, know that is was my false bravado, not the lightning that killed me.

Living with fear is part and parcel of living in faith.

A good bit of fear goes a long way in building your life.

Consider these proverbs:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor. (3)

If your fear of the Lord is wrestling your faith-in-yourself to the ground, that’s a good thing.

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  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, and 15:33.

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Preaching Notes

If My People Will Pray

2 Chronicles 7:11–22

Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished.

Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.   And as for you, if you will walk before me as David your father walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to rule Israel.’

“But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.’ ”

I.  Born in the USA

David Brooks on Bruce Springsteen Concert in Spain:

The continuing flood of immigrants into the USA

Why do so many people want to live here?

Is it our Declaration of Independence?

Is it our …

Uniqueness of the USA

Has the USA lost her way?

II.  God’s National Blessings

Scripture reaffirms God’s love

Ours is a God of covenants

Covenants are agreements between 2 parties

In these covenants God promised to bless as long as the people kept

In OT God established major covenants with His people:

The covenant with David was with the nation of Israel

Today’s scripture 2 Chronicles 7:11–22 is a covenant reminder

All covenants included 3 parts

A promised blessing

A condition to be met by the people

A warning if the condition was not met

III.  The Promise and the Blessing of 2 Chronicles 7:11–22

The setting for this promise and warning

The Blessing

I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

The Condition

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways

The Warning

If you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight.

From biblical history we know, God is true to His Word

One of the great mistakes of the people of God is when

We trust His promises, but laugh at His warnings

Have we done this in America today?

IV.  The State of America Today

We can use a variety of tools to evaluate our nation

As a Christian we should use biblical tools

Based on

Matthew 25:31-46, specifically vs 38 and 39

Micah 6:8

Exodus 20 … The Ten Commandments

Luke 10:27 … The Great Commandments

God is no longer loved or honored in America

America not only hates the church, but our nation despises God

Every political speech ends, God bless America

We continue to take away religious freedoms for Christians

The current media is anti-Christian

The Christian Church in America is in decline

Christian love of neighbor is rarely honored

Is practiced among our leaders

Even as citizens we are more focused on ourselves

=> an ethic which tramples love or concern for neighbor

Christian ethics are not even taken into consideration

Do your own thing reigns

V.  We have broken covenant with God

We should no longer assume God’s blessing

According to 2 Chronicles

We should be expecting judgement rather than blessing

What should we do according to 2 Chronicles?

In this passage, we are called to do 6 things

  1. Humble ourselves
  2. Pray to God
  3. Seek God’s face
  4. Turn from our wicked ways
  5. Walk before me like David … Have a heart for God
  6. Obey my commands

All speak of a change of life focus from self to God

A change which is inner and personal

A change which is outward

Doing these thing will not save our nation

In response God will:

  1. Hear from heaven
  2. Forgive our sin
  3. Heal our land.

God is our only Savior

We need a revival in America

Revival begins here … In our hearts

Not out there in the world

Until their is a revival in here there will never be a revival out there

A new or better President will not save us

 Unless the Lord reigns in our hearts and in our land

We will remain a nation in decline

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